Review Summary: And all the while, the good lord smiles, and looks the other way, and looks the other wayPedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit
Review by Marzuki
Winners Never Quit
is credited to Pedro the Lion. But while the rest of the band joined David Bazan on tour after its release, the project is his, and no one else’s.
It shows in the music. Pedro the Lion’s second outing is a concept album, and an odd one at that. Where else can you hear about the rise, and subsequent downward spiral, of a corrupt but well meaning politician, as told by him and his brother?
We are introduced to the story after the first few gentle strokes of Bazan’s guitar. Our politician details how he and his brother got to where they are in life, through a metaphorical Red Riding Hood style comparison. The politician did as he was told and followed the path, while the brother fell into a ravine and was attacked by rattlesnakes. 'Slow and Steady Wins the Race' is, in fact, one of the best songs in the album, and it introduces well the Christian fable aura which pervades every song.
The second song picks up a little bit, as a spirited coffee-bar riff takes us through the politician’s ballot stuffing scheme. In the following song, something of a misstep, the drunkard brother takes over the microphone, pleading with a policeman not to take him in. It’s not really necessary, and not really interesting.
Then we move on to the heart of the album. In 'A Mind of Her Own', Bazan growls and rages over a furious pounding guitar and drums. The object of his fury is the politician’s wife, who learns of the corrupt means by which he took power. “You put down that telephone, you’re not calling anyone”, he thunders, and by the time the next song starts, the politician has added murder to his list of misdemeanours. In 'Eye on the Finish Line', a clear highlight, we get a clear look into the politician’s conscience – which is free of guilt, but still clouded with misery over killing his wife. “She almost ruined everything” he moans to himself, justifying everything he’s done. It’s touching, and slightly disturbing. And then, our wayward lawmaker takes his own life.
In 'Bad Things to Such Good People', it’s left to his brother to note the irony of the situation. The pride of the family dethroned, it is his bête noire brother who looks on at the funeral. A simple acoustic piece, this is the best song by far, and would have been a fitting end.
But of course, we have the final eponymous track. At over five minutes, it’s perhaps slightly too long, but it brings the album to a close nicely. It almost sounds like a lullaby, and its final moments are beautiful – the guitar, drums and organ wrapping the listener like a quilt. “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” croons Bazan over it all. This is the sound of redemption.
And redemption is the feeling you get from Winners Never Quit
. Despite the dark nature of the subject, despite the fact that the politician never repented and never redeemed himself, you don’t walk away from this album with a bad feeling – and that’s pretty remarkable.